NASCAR AMERICA: Tuesday round-up (VIDEO)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a decision to hang toward the back of the field late in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in order to avoid the anticipated late-race wrecks and position himself for a final run.

But the gamble didn’t work, and after finishing 26th, Earnhardt has been the target of some criticism from members of the NASCAR Nation that feel he didn’t give it everything he had.

However, on today’s episode of NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN, analyst and Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton defended Earnhardt and said he played it smart on Sunday.

Burton and host Marty Snider also looked into the evolution of a very important aspect of drivers’ safety: Their seats. Using photos of Jeff Gordon’s seat from the late 1990s and Mark Martin’s seat from 2012, Burton explained the important advances that the seat has taken over the last decade and a half.

NASCAR AMERICA will be back tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for online/mobile devices. You can also check out more clips from the show on its archive page.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.